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Costs rising for finishing South Taylor Hill upgrades

Engineering and design work continues for Alaska Highway upgrades on the South Taylor Hill but the costs are increasing, according to the mayor of Taylor.
road
Sloughing at the edge of the road on the South Taylor Hill, May 15, 2017.

Engineering and design work continues for Alaska Highway upgrades on the South Taylor Hill but the costs are increasing, according to the mayor of Taylor.

Rob Fraser said plans to four-lane the rest of the hill and fix the Taylor bridge were common topics at four meetings he sat in on with provincial transportation minister Claire Trevena at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention last week.

"The more they look at that one kilometre, essentially from where the four-lane end nows to the corner, the costs of changing that are really starting to ramp up and increase," Fraser told councillors at their Monday meeting.

The highway through the Peace River valley and the District of Taylor is a key link for the Peace Region economy, as well as those of Northern B.C., the Yukon, and Alaska, and activity is once again on the rise, Fraser said.

But the province is looking at the highway in individual segments, and were urged to start looking at it as one whole crossing, from the top of the hill and through the district, Fraser said.

"That one kilometre stretch potentially if it fails, and it is slipping, shuts down all that economic activity," he said.

Fraser sat in on separate meetings with Travena as a representative for Taylor, the Peace River Regional District, the Rural Roads Taskforce, and the Resource Municipalities Coalition.

The province is looking at a business case and different options for the Taylor bridge, but didn't go into much details, Fraser said, likening the meetings to "15-minute speed dating" sessions.

The cost of the increase to four-lane the rest of the South Taylor Hill weren't elaborated on, nor were the specific issues challenging the design work, Fraser said. The hill has seen a number of slides over the last couple years, and some excavation work took place this summer.

"If you're going to widen that somehow, you're either moving a pile of dirt into the hill or you're placing a pile of dirt at the bottom of the hill to make it stable," he said.

But the cost-benefit analysis of fixing the hill is simple, Fraser said, as it will likely cost less than what the region stand to lose as an economic consequence if it ever shut down for a prolonged period of time.

"Because there's so much activity in the South Peace, we're seeing a lot of those contractors from the North Peace working in the South Peace," he said.

"They're creating a bigger contractor base in the South Peace, so we're seeing the South Peace contractors moving into the north. We're seeing a lot of back and forth." 

A request for comment has been sent to the ministry of transportation and infrastructure. 

Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at editor@ahnfsj.ca.